My cats have never expressed this much interest in my salads, and sometimes it’s hard to really get excited about them. But I learned to be a little more colorful, if not creative, when it comes to presentation. Fortunately I’ve never made a salad that resembled the ones you would assemble at fast food restaurants:

Not very appetizing, it’s kind of healthy, but I won’t enjoy eating it as much as I would want to. I’ve never really liked iceberg lettuce in salads unless it was covered in blue cheese dressing, and tomatoes are not meant to be crunchy!

Shopping for salad ingredients was always kind of a chore and I could never get excited about it. Thankfully there are so many great raw food/vegetarian/vegan blogs that can give you some great ideas to make your veggies more enticing. Instead of thinking only green when shopping for your salad ingredients, how about shopping for other colors, instead? Visit the produce department and just look at all the fabulous colors the veggie world has to offer, like golden beets, purple carrots, and fancy heirloom tomatoes from pink to purple! Buy in small amounts to last you a few days so you won’t feel obligated to eat veggies just because you bought them on sale. Try a new item like flowering kale or even those hairy looking sprouts. Also think of texture, and of course, flavor! All those things will come together in one deliciously satisfying bite…that’s how a salad should be!

I like to keep a good variety of fruits and veggies, and am starting to sprout my own grains, too. Here’s what I made for lunch:

Taste the power of the rainbow salad!

And here’s what’s in it: lettuce, grated carrots, chopped celery, chopped cucumber, purple cauliflower pieces, shredded zucchini, chopped apples, diced dried apricots, strawberries, sprouted quinoa, and a sunflower seed sprout (just ’cause it’s good!) It’s a lot more fun when you have so many colorful ingredients…it’s like making art, so why not enjoy making your food as well as eating it?

Speaking of art, if you’re planning a dinner party and want to impress your guests, check out these creative ways to display your fruits and veggies posted by Design Indulgences. Below is my favorite, veggies and dip in one!

Crudites display

Display your veggies in glass vases found at craft stores.

And check out this wonderful salad presentation idea using cucumbers as the bowl! I hope these ideas will help you get a little more creative with your healthy eating, and come back and share some ideas with me, I’d love to hear what you’ve created!

Instead of frosting, top a generous slice of carrot apple ginger cake with tangy goat cheese drizzled with ginger agave syrup.

Hoppy Easter, everyone! I hope you are enjoying your beautiful Easter morning and  celebrating Easter in your own special way. I woke up a little early to test out a cake recipe I’ve only baked once before, and the reason I’ve only baked it once is because of the amount of oil and sugar in the recipe. It’s a delicious cake spiked with freshly grated ginger, and tastes best right out of the oven, but it seems crazy to have 1 1/3 cups of oil in a cake recipe! I wanted to keep the flavor but reduce the fat, so I did a bit of improvising, thanks to a tip from a Cooking Light contest winner over 10 years ago. Instead of using oil or applesauce (as the substitute,) a jar of carrot baby food was used to add moisture. Clever, isn’t it? Hoping it will work with this recipe, I substituted a 6-oz jar of sweet potatoes baby food for almost 1 cup of oil. Because of the added sweetness, I reduced the sugar from 1 1/2 cups to 1 cup. I also added some apples and a little cinnamon, which can be increased if you want a “warmer” flavor, or omitted if you prefer a spicier, ginger taste.

My husband and I had this for Easter breakfast and I was happy to see he went back for seconds! The cake is moist and fragrant, and the tangy goat cheese is the perfect compliment to the light sweetness of the carrot cake . I think I’m ready for another slice…

Carrot Apple Ginger Cake

2 cups spelt flour (or all-purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups shredded carrots
2 cups peeled and chopped apple (about 1 large)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 6-oz jar sweet potato baby food
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (use a 2-inch piece for less intense ginger)
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
goat cheese
ginger agave syrup (inspired by Veggie Nook’s recipe here)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan or two 8-inch round cake pans.

In a large mixing bowl, mix dry ingredients until well-combined. In another larger bowl, combine carrots, apple, sugar, oil, sweet potato bay food, eggs and ginger. Add half of dry ingredients to carrot mixture, mix well. Add remaining dry ingredients and combine well, but do not overmix. Sprinkle chopped walnuts or pecans in bottom of bundt pan or two 8-inch round cake pans. Fill pan(s) and bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool and remove cake from pan(s). Top with a dollop of got cheese and drizzle with agave syrup, add extra nuts, if desired.

Cute min-bundt cakes are just the right size for one.

sweet and spicy ginger agave syrup